13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Blu-ray Review
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI may be remembered for two things. The first is an attempt by Republican presidential candidates to use this as propaganda when they hadn’t even seen the movie yet. But the people who’ve watched this know there’s no way that this could ever be wielded by any political organization as a way to forward an agenda. The second thing it’ll be remembered for is the one time Michael Bay did something right. Yes. That Michael Bay
13 HOURS begins with some on the screen text which tells us that Libya has descended into organized chaos after the death of Dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Rival factions, wielding weapons of Gaddafi’s regime, now fight within one another over control of the African country. A C.I.A. compound, full of about two dozen men and women, simply monitor the outside disorder, but things take a turn when they’re notified that U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, will be visiting a nearby compound with very little defense. Sadly, we know what happens next.
What 13 HOURS does is shift the focus away from the political tragedy and sets its gaze on the men that endured 13 hours of hell. The death of Stevens isn’t marginalized, but it is off screen and mentioned. The story is focused on Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (Dale), Mark ‘Oz’ Geist (Max Martini), Jack Silva (Krasinski), John ‘Tig’ Tiegen (Dominic Fumusa), Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto (Schreiber), Dave ‘Boon’ Benton (David Denman) and others at the C.I.A. compound. While in the media, it’s easy to highlight the death of a U.S. Ambassador, it’s easier to forget the others that lost their life that day.
13 HOURS is only a few years removed from the incident, and it manages to avoid the politics of it all. While some see that as a detriment, I see that as a positive because we don’t have to worry about the complicated message that history has yet to write. Only history can tell us what transpired and even then there’s debate. The political atmosphere right now, and for the foreseeable future, has a stranglehold on the Benghazi story. What actually happened will be laid out one day. 13 HOURS talks about those who lived through that night and how horrific it really was.
If there is any political statement to be taken from 13 HOURS, it’s the one that we see in every war movie, and that is that war is hell. There’s no patriotic war cries or calls for vengeance. It’s all about our characters musing over why they’re there in the first place and how they’ll be able to survive the waves of attacks they’re fending off. 13 HOURS is a bit too long for its own good. A 13 hour battle can only be interesting for so long. But the movie never trivializes the battle and deaths on either side.
The cast mirrors the terror and adrenaline that was surely coursing through these men’s veins. Despite all the news coverage and the people who think they know the story, 13 HOURS keeps you on the edge of your seat. I’m not going to dispute any of the potential factual fallacies of this movie, but I might add that there’s nothing outlandish that this movie is claiming. If there is a lie, it’s only to keep the story moving or to create more tension. I know it’s not the best to forgive a bending of the truth, but in this case I am because 13 HOURS is never dishonest to the courage on display.
If anyone is looking for the smoking gun behind what really happened in Libya on September 11th, 2013, 13 HOURS is going to disappoint them. In fact it may infuriate them because of its neutral position when it comes to the storytelling. Movie’s like this are reminders that when we get past all the grandstanding of our elected leaders, and those wishing to attain power, there are ultimately human lives at the center of it all. 13 HOURS shows that we lost four people that day and they will be missed.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The utter realism of it all is enhanced by the crystal clarity on this blu-ray. I love the look and feel of this movie and a lot of that can be attributed to the stellar picture presentation.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) I’m sure if I had surround sound, I would feel like I’m in the thick of the battle. Outside of some sappy inspirational music, the audio on this blu-ray is spot on.
For the Record: Finding the Truth Amid the Noise (8:02): This is a fascinating look at the story of Benghazi that took place on September 11th and 12th. It’s a little too short for the amount of information it could have covered.
Uncovering Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers (27:34): This feature talks about making the movie realistic, by including the real people in on the sets and portrayals. It’s interesting watching the collaboration between the crew and the ones who lived through that night.
Preparing for Battle: Behind the Scenes of 13 HOURS (26:24): What little respect I had before this movie for Michael Bay has significantly increased. This is one of those features that really reflect on how dedicated and passionate he is about his work.
Operation: 13 HOURS Premiere (3:00): This covers the movie’s premiere at the Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
In Memoriam (2:58): The song, “Amazing Grace” plays over photos of those that died in Benghazi.